Robb Crouch
director of public relations, University of Nebraska Foundation; Office 402.458.1142; Mobile, 402.304.3085;

Two grants totaling $150,000 from the University of Nebraska Foundation are music to the ears for the Department of Music and the Department of Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
A $100,000 grant will make it possible for the Department of Communication Disorders to invest in a custom-made mobile clinic to provide speech, language and hearing testing services at off-campus sites, including schools, preschools, day care centers, agencies and events. Service areas include Kearney, Lexington, Arapahoe, Cambridge, Minden, Ravenna, Holdrege, Elm Creek, Gibbon and Grand Island.  
“The mobile clinic will allow us to provide services in a quality, sound-controlled environment,” said Dr. Kenya Taylor, former chair and a professor in the communication disorders department. Dr. Taylor is now dean of Graduate Studies and Research. “It also allows us to expand our services and increase our outreach throughout the western part of the state while providing opportunities for students to obtain practicum hours with diverse clients.”
Each year, faculty and students provide onsite hearing evaluations, and speech/language evaluations and therapy to approximately 1,000 children. Much of the time, Dr. Taylor said, the clinicians have provided services where space was available, which often meant providing critical tests in cafeterias, classrooms or even restrooms.
“Due to the noise and other distractions, this is not acceptable for providing valid evaluations,” she said.
Once operating, the mobile unit will also travel to Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island to provide hearing evaluations and hearing conservation training for event goers. So far, more than 7,000 people have been tested during this annual event between 1996 and 2005. Another benefit of the mobile unit is the opportunity for UNK departments and units to collaborate on additional outreach services to take on the road. Dr. Taylor said she could easily see, for example, departments such as early childhood intervention, counseling and school psychology, and education working together.
The Department of Music has already put its $50,000 grant to use replacing aged and irreparable musical instruments.
Dr. Valerie Cisler, professor of music and chair of the Department of Music and Performing Arts, said they have concentrated on obtaining “families” of matching models of brass, woodwind and percussion instruments. The goal is to help ensembles achieve uniformity in sound quality within each instrumental section.
“When we had eight sousaphones from nearly as many decades and models, the possibility of achieving that uniformity was remote,” Dr. Cisler said. “The new instruments provide a much richer, fuller quality of sound.”
The music department is coming out of a 35-year period during which there was no budget available for replacing old instruments, resulting in the need for major repairs and replacements, she said.
“On our last accreditation site visit, we were cited for the lack of sufficient numbers and quality of instruments for practice, technique classes and performance, and for the lack of adequate budget for the repair and replacement of instruments,” Dr. Cisler said. “The NU Foundation grant has made it possible for us to address this significant concern.”
Perhaps the most immediate and measurable effect of the new instruments has been the morale boost among students.
“Upon seeing all the new instruments as band camp opened this fall, the students were thrilled,” she said. “They see the new instruments as an important measure of support for the program, and are both encouraged and motivated to work harder than ever to make UNK proud.”
The  University of Nebraska Foundation’s grants committee awarded 10 grants across the university campuses, totaling $1.05 million for 2006-2007. Much of the annual grant resources are made available from unrestricted donations to the foundation.
“We are very gratified with the enthusiastic responses from each of the campuses to our request for proposals,” said Grants Committee Chair Veronica Haggart, a University of Nebraska graduate and St. Paul native. “It is always rewarding to see how the boost to the programs selected for funding enables the university to further enhance the lives of so many people both on and off the campus.”
In March, grant applications were submitted to James B. Milliken, president of the University of Nebraska, from each campus chancellor. The proposals were required to be tied to campus priorities and the university-wide strategic framework. It was then the job of the foundation grants committee – a group of 13 – to make final recommendations to the foundation’s board of directors in June.
The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 70 years. More than $77 million was provided last year for students, faculty, academic programs, research, and building and campus capital improvements.
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